Advice

Big Garden Birdwatch FAQs

It's easy to be part of Big Garden Birdwatch. Simply choose an hour between 26 and 28 January and count the birds you see in your garden, from your balcony, or in your local park. Only count birds that land. Then tell us what you saw. Even if you saw nothing, it still counts.

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Get ready to look out for birds

Taking part is as easy as 1, 2, 3

Last year hundreds of thousands of nature lovers took part in Big Garden Birdwatch across the UK. We'd love you to take part this year to help us understand how our birds are doing.

Can we help you?

Anything you're not sure about? Take a look at our most commonly asked questions:

How to take part

Why can't I log into my account?

We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to create an updated look in-keeping with our new brand, while making the news, information and guides which matter to you much easier to find and use. This also means that some functions aren't quite ready, including the ability to log into your account and see previous results. We hope that this doesn't take away from the Big Garden Birdwatch Experience!

Read more about our new website here

Do I have to be an RSPB member or donate to the RSPB to take part?

No. Big Garden Birdwatch is for everyone and it is free to take part. All you need to do is spend one hour between Friday 26 and Sunday 28 January counting the birds you see in your garden, local park or from your balcony then tell us what you saw.

Can we take part as a group?

Yes, you can get together with friends or family to do Big Garden Birdwatch and count the birds you see together. However, you should only give us one set of results. If more than one group member submits results that would mean that we have more than one set of the same results.

If, however, your group all plan to do Big Garden Birdwatch separately from different locations, then you would need to add separate results.

Does it matter what time of day I do Big Garden Birdwatch?

No. The time of day you do your Birdwatch may affect the numbers and variety of birds you see but it won’t affect the overall results. This is because there are so many people counting birds at different times over three days. We also get asked about things like weather and food, but because the results are based on information from so many people doing the Birdwatch the effects of weather, food and time all even themselves out – incredible isn’t it! 

This year, we've heard that you want to tell us more about your Birdwatch, so we've added some additional questions which are optional to answer.

Can I take part in Big Garden Birdwatch for all three days?

Yes and no! To take part in Big Garden Birdwatch, we ask you to spend one hour counting the birds you see in one location – from your garden, balcony or in your local park. We can only accept one birdwatch per person/per location. If you want to do more than one birdwatch over the weekend just make sure you do it from a different location. Remember to add the location of your Birdwatch when you tell us your results.

Why is Big Garden Birdwatch held over just one weekend?

Big Garden Birdwatch provides a snapshot in time of how garden birds are doing in the UK. It is held at a similar time every year so that we can compare the results with previous years. The number of birds visiting gardens and parks varies throughout the year, so it’s better that everyone counts over the same long weekend. This year Big Garden Birdwatch is from Friday 26 and Sunday 28 January.

Why is Big Garden Birdwatch in winter?

Because that’s the time of the year garden birds need us most – if it’s really cold, it’s likely more birds will come into our gardens looking for shelter and food. This makes is easier to count the birds. Because the Birdwatch takes place at the same time every year, we can look back through the years to see if anything has changed.

What about the weather? Will this affect Big Garden Birdwatch?

Big Garden Birdwatch asks people from all over the UK to count the birds they see. Because the UK is such a big area, it is likely that the weather will vary from place to place. Somewhere it may be raining, somewhere it could be sunny, and elsewhere there might be frost. However, because so many people are counting birds from so many different places, any impact is likely to be evened out. Also because the Birdwatch takes place over more than one day, it helps us ensure that we get a good snapshot of how birds are faring.

This year, we've heard that you want to tell us more about your Birdwatch, so we've added some additional questions which are optional to answer.

Questions about the guide

How do I get a Big Garden Birdwatch guide?

You can take part in the Birdwatch by simply counting the birds that land in your garden and going online to tell us what you saw. However, we know some people prefer to use a guide, and you can sign up to get yours now. Please take a look at the guide before printing, as it may be that you don’t need to print it. Every piece of paper saved is better for nature! Alternatively, we can post you a printed guide, while stocks last - fill in our sign up form for your copy.

My guide hasn’t arrived - what should I do?

We start sending out guides in January. We're really sorry if you don't receive yours in time for the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend. However, you can still take part online. If you prefer to use a guide, you can download one using the links below. Please take a look at the guide before printing, as it may be that you don’t need to print it. Every piece of paper saved is better for nature!

Why was my friend/family member sent information about Big Garden Birdwatch without having to register but I was not?

We are keen that everyone is welcome to take part in Big Garden Birdwatch. Sometimes, we send reminders to people who have previously taken part. When you register to take part if you opt in to our emails, we will be able to send you the latest Big Garden Birdwatch news, plus remind you when it is taking place next year!

Telling us what you saw

When do I need to send you my results?

Please tell us what you saw at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch before 18 February. By giving us your results online, you’re helping us to spend more on saving nature as it reduces our costs. However, if you prefer to post us your results, you can print and complete the form found in the guide, and send it back to reach us by 13 February. Please take a look at the guide before printing, as it may be that you don’t need to print it all. Every piece of paper saved is better for nature!

Can I send my result by post instead of online?

The easiest way to tell us what you saw is by adding your results online at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch. This helps us to spend more on nature as it reduces our costs – and it saves postage and paper. However, if you prefer to post us your results, you can print and complete the form found in the guide, and send it back to reach us by 13 February. Please take a look at the guide before printing, as it may be that you don’t need to print it all. Every piece of paper saved is better for nature!

Why can't I see my results from previous years?

We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to create an updated look in-keeping with our new brand, while making the news, information and guides which matter to you much easier to find and use. This also means that some functions aren't quite ready, including the ability to log into your account and see previous results. We still have your results saved and hope to make them visible to you in the future. We hope that this doesn't take away from the Big Garden Birdwatch Experience!

Read more about our new website here

The bird I saw isn’t pictured on the guide or listed on the results form - what should I do?

Unfortunately, we do have limited space on the paper guide and the list of species that people may see in the UK is huge! However, you can include other birds you see in the free text box on the form or, better still, go online to add your results where we have a much longer list of birds available to add to your record. We love to hear about the birds you’ve seen – and we review the birds included on the guides every year.

Free Guide and ID chart

You can take part in the Birdwatch by simply counting the birds for one hour then going online to tell us what and how many you saw. However, we know some people prefer to use a guide. You can download this year's free guide below.

Birds of conservation concern

The UK Red list for Birds keeps track of population trends in 245 species, with birds listed as 'Red' deemed most at risk. In 2021,Greenfinches moved onto the Red List for the first time. 

Back in 1979, when Big Garden Birdwatch began, Greenfinches first came in at number seven, but in 2023 they were down to 18. This demonstrates the devastating population declines seen in these charming little finches, caused by a disease called trichomonosis. We now know that Chaffinches are affected too. 

You can help stop the spread of this disease by removing old food and cleaning your bird tables, bird baths and feeders weekly. Check here for guidance on cleaning feeders to keep you and your garden birds safe.

See the bigger picture
  1. Big Garden Birdwatch: why every count matters